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Instagram to crack down on “hidden” advertising

British regulators said this in a statement Friday Facebook (FB) has accepted changes that will make it “much harder” for people to post ads on its Instagram platform without labeling them as such. The restrictions apply to all Instagram users globally, but the platform will only report on how it is tracking engagements in the UK.

“For too long, major platforms have avoided taking responsibility for hidden advertising on their site,” said Andrea Coscelli, CEO of the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

“These changes mean there will be no excuse for companies to overlook the way their brands are advertised, making life that much more difficult for those who are not upfront and honest with their followers,”

; added Coscelli.

Social media influencers with thousands of followers often earn commissions from companies for promoting their products. Many companies and big global brands are dedicating an increasing portion of their advertising budgets to influencer marketing, particularly to reach younger consumers who may not be watching television or reading newspapers.

According to the platform, over 90% of Instagram users follow a business or brand.

The CMA said it investigated whether too many influencers post content about companies without clarifying where they were paid or incentivized to do so, amid concerns that the platform wasn’t doing enough to address the problem.

UK consumer protection law requires paid posts to be clearly labeled “so people aren’t misled,” the CMA said.

Instagram will now ask users to confirm if they have been incentivized to promote a product or service and, if so, will require them to disclose it. The “paid partnership” tool, which adds labels to posts, will be extended to all users and algorithms will be used to locate unlabeled sponsored posts and report them to promoted activities, the CMA said.

Instagram will also create a tool for businesses to help them track how their products are promoted so they can ask the platform to remove posts if needed.

A Facebook spokesperson told CNN Business that it is “delighted to be working with the CMA on our continued efforts to help people be transparent about when they get paid to post content on Instagram.” The spokesperson said Facebook will regularly report to the CMA on its enforcement measures against UK users.

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